MasterCard says payment by smartphones years away

Consumers are still at least “a couple of years” away from widely using their smartphones to make payments, despite technology that is already available, a MasterCard Inc senior executive told Reuters on Friday.

Major banks, mobile phone companies and credit card processing networks are all vying to dominate the emerging U.S. market for smartphone payments. MasterCard and its rival processing networks, including Visa Inc and Discover Financial Services (DFS.N), are all intensifying their tests of technology that will allow consumers to pay for goods or services with their mobile phones.

But barriers to widespread adoption remain in the United States, MasterCard President of Global Technology and Operations Robert Reeg said on Friday.

“It’s still got a ways to go … I think you’re still talking a couple of years,” he said in an interview at the company’s global operations headquarters near St. Louis.

Retailers have yet to widely install the equipment that can accept smartphone payments and some consumers are wary of paying with their phones, Reeg said.

But the technology is “more available than people think now,” he said.

MasterCard is conducting some 20 different tests of mobile payment technology around the world, Reeg said. The company has already developed technology that allows U.S. consumers to make “contactless” payments by tapping their credit card or a sticker attached to the back of a phone.

North American consumers only use their cell phones to make about $1.4 billion of payments today, but that number could soar to about $23 billion by 2014, according to the research firm Gartner Inc.

MasterCard shares closed up 1.6 percent at $213.67 on Friday.
Source: Reuters

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